Once again the week got away without a podcast. Sometimes living by a rhythm disrupts the schedule of life.
Occasionally there comes a text of Scripture which creates a bit of dissonance with well established sensibilities. Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward brought the familiar story of David and Bathsheba to the “big screen.” King David’s actions find the height of their contrast in a reference to David as a “man after God’s own heart.” Hardly a noble comparison unless one recalls the description of David preceded his mighty, well re-told fall.
Surely we know stories of falling. Why tune into politics and witness the recent affairs exposed. It would be too easy to make these stories simply stories of sexual indulgence. We would miss the point if David’s tryst was “only” an indulgence with another man’s wife. Adding insult to indulgence and digging the hole deeper the tale turns to murder. And you thought Hollywood originated such scripts.
The matter is certainly one of fidelity. But, it is less about David’s unfaithfulness as a husband, father, and king. It is more about David’s failure to offer a living example of just how humans, especially those claiming a relationship with The Deity, should relate to others/Other. The distinction does not minimize David’s actions. Instead, they heighten the egregious nature of them. Sitting on the throne of Israel, David provided a representative figurehead not just of personal morality but of relational holiness.
We still suffer the days of “do as I say not as I do.” But with King David the stakes are far higher. Representing the rule and reign of God not just to Israel but the watching world placed import on how we treat others. David failed. Long before entering the “land of promise” YHWH charged his people to love their neighbors. Commandments regarding a neighbors belongings and family were quite specific.
David and Bathsheba is as much a tale of regarding another human being as something less than oneself. Considering another person beneath us eventually leads to not just an abuse of power for sexual gratification. No, it is at the root of racism, sexism, classism, and a host of other -isms where people are treated with indignantly.
Yes, this is a tale about more than adultery and murder. It reaches beyond the consequent actions to touch all of us at the point of how we relate to others/Other.